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UPDATE 2-Build-A-Bear to close friends 2B made concept

(Recasts; adds analyst comments, share movement)

BANGALORE, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Build-A-Bear Workshop Inc BBW.N said it plans to close friends 2B made concept, a line of make-your-own dolls, and expects related charges in the third and fourth quarters, and through the third quarter of fiscal 2009, sending its shares down as much as 14 percent.

“With the slowdown in consumer spending, particularly for discretionary products, we believe the best strategic course for the company is to continue to focus our primary efforts on building our Build-A-Bear Workshop,” Chief Executive Maxine Clark said in a statement.

The stuffed-toys retailer has operated 9 friends 2B made stores with little fanfare since the fourth quarter of 2006, so its action was not a surprise, Stifel Nicolaus & Co Inc analyst David Schick said in a note to clients.

Build-A-Bear sees a pretax non-cash impairment charge of about 9 cents a share in the third quarter. It also expects pretax charges of about 6 cents to 7 cents a share during the fourth quarter and through the third quarter of fiscal 2009.

The company, which operates more than 385 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores, said it expects to complete the closure of 9 friends 2B made-doll locations by the end of the third quarter of fiscal 2009.

The retailer, which lets customers make their own stuffed animals, also said it will remove friends 2B made products from separate display fixtures in about 50 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores and discontinue product sales at www.friends2bmade.com.

The company said it plans to offer all friends 2B made associates similar positions at nearby Build-A-Bear Workshop store locations.

BACKS FY08 OUTLOOK

For fiscal 2008, the St Louis-based company said it still expects earnings per share to meet the average of analysts’ earnings estimates of 68 cents, excluding expenses related to the closure.

“Build-A-Bear outlook reiteration suggests business has not further deteriorated, though we find it difficult to see real traction being made either,” said Schick, who has a “hold” rating on the stock.

“We remain skeptical that Build-A-Bear can gain traffic in a slow mall environment, though are watching girl-centric introductions and promotions in the second half of 2008, namely Hannah Montana and High School Musical,” he added.

The company said it plans to convert several of friends 2B made locations to expanded Build-A-Bear Workshop locations in 2009 and expects about $2 million of related capital spending.

Build-A-Bear, whose brands include make-your-own Major League Baseball mascot in-stadium locations and Build-A-Dino stores, now expects capital expenditure of about $17 million in fiscal 2009.

Build-A-Bear shares, which touched a low of $6.38 earlier in the day, were down 11 cents at $7.28 in morning trade Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have lost more than 45 percent of their value this year. (Reporting by Dilipp S. Nag; Editing by Amitha Rajan)

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